Charleston’s Jackson Burgess (above) attempts a layup past the outstretched arm of Mattoon’s Jaylen Middleton during the Green Wave’s 51-47 win Wednesday evening.
Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski
Mattoon and Charleston combined for 33 points from behind the arc Wednesday evening in their Apollo Conference matchup.
Mattoon, though, had the edge, nailing seven to Charleston’s four 3-pointers.
Mattoon’s Cooper Bergstrom sank back-to-back 3-pointers in less than 20 seconds to help the Green Wave take a 28-24 lead going into the halftime break. But it was a three-point play by Jaylen Middleton down the stretch that ultimately enabled the Green Wave to secure the 51-47 victory.
“It was ugly both ways,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “It looked like a bunch of tired kids out there. They fought their way through it and made enough plays down the stretch.”
The Trojans stormed out aggressively against Mattoon, scoring 18 first-quarter points behind 6-foot-4 junior Jaksen Braun’s six points. Mattoon would stay within reach until the second quarter when Bradbury returned from foul trouble, scoring five of his seven points in the quarter before Bergstrom’s nailed the two 3s.
Charleston’s scored only six points in the second quarter.
“Mattoon was pressing at the beginning. We were able to attack and make some plays,” said Charleston coach Brad Oakley said. “In the second quarter, they went 2-3 (defensive alignment) with their size and had to be a little more patient and move it around. Some of those shots that go in, didn’t go in in the second quarter. We were still down by four and right there in the game. We gave ourselves a shot at the end.”
The Green Wave would get a boost from 6-foot-1 guard Cam’Ron Thomas. The deft senior scored nine of Mattoon’s 14 points extending its lead to five over Charleston heading into the fourth quarter.
The Trojans bounced back mid-fourth quarter with a consecutive baskets by Jaksen Braun and William Applegate.
After a Mattoon timeout, Applegate blocked a shot by Bradbury, and Charleston tied the game on another basket by Braun with just 1:49 remaining.
Mattoon’s Jaylen Middleton sank a jumper after Applegate barely touched the ball as it arced a few feet in the air, giving the Green Wave a 47-45 lead. Middleton made a free throw on the foul that extended the lead to three points before Charleston’s Sam Bickford took the ball at the top of the arc with 8.8 seconds left, eyeing the net clearly before firing off a shot that circled the rim and fell out.
“I thought Jaylen had a nice drive to the basket, with a three-point play.” Ghere said. “Cooper Bergstrom hit two big free throws.”
“We had a game after the two-week layoff last night against Mt. Zion and thought the kids battled and competed,” Oakley said. “Things didn’t always go our way with some missed shots and a bounce here and bounce there. It’s the way it goes. It’s sports. I thought our kids played hard.”
Oakley and Ghere said they will try to get players in shape despite having been allowed to play only a handful of games so far – and facing a busy schedule with fewer days off.
“They tried to hang in there throughout and had some bumps and bruises and other guys stepped up to make some plays,” Oakley said. “We have to come back tomorrow and be ready to go at practice.”
Said Ghere: “Give our boys credit. It wasn’t always pretty, but they found a way to knock down some big shots.”
Mattoon, which lost to Lincoln 50-35 on Monday night, improved to 2-3. Charleston fell to 2-2.
The two teams will meet again Saturday.
MATTOON: Bergstrom 3 3-4 12, Thomas 5 1-2 12, Carter-Smith 3 0-1 7, Middleton 4 1-3 10, Farmer 1 0-0 3, Bradbury 3 1-3 7. Totals 19 6-13 51. 3-pointers: Bergstrom 3, Thomas 1, Carter-Smith 1, Middleton 1, Farmer 1
CHARLESTON: Spour 0 5-8 5, Burgess 2 0-0 5, Applegate 5 0-0 12, Braun 6 0-0 12, Oakley 2 0-0 5, Bickford 3 2-2 8. Totals 18 7-10 47. 3-pointers: Burgess 1, Applegate 2, Oakley 1.